Deep Rock Galactic, or DRG is a game about space dwarves who go on mining expeditions for a company in order to collect resources and alien material. The game uses a unique art style as well as using light as a primary game mechanic. In DRG players are tasked with venturing into the deepest reaches of a planet known as Hoxxes IV. The planet possesses many deposits of ore and is home to a dangerous species of insects known as Glyphids. DRG uses the unique lighting and swarm based AI to give a sense of fear and anticipation to players as they venture deep into the planet's dark depths. I chose to use this game for my analysis of play testing because it would give a greater reaction from my friend who rarely plays any video games, much less ones with an aspect of horror.
Looking first at my own gameplay experience in DRG. I have played DRG since a little while before it’s full release, so I wasn’t unfamiliar with the game. I also play several other horror based games that use a similar system for raising a player’s heart rate. The idea behind this mechanic is that when a mission or event gets stressful the game recognizes that and throws out a bunch of enemies or some other problem to increase the excitement. For people unfamiliar with video games, this kind of stressful situation can lead to poor performance and rushing through objectives that need to be taken slowly, for veteran gamers this mechanic is actually pretty fun and enjoyable, and doesn’t pose too much of a severe threat once you can accurately grasp your surroundings. This is one thing that sets apart casual/new players, and those that are veterans. In my own experience I know that when we are getting into the thick of an event and a massive swarm of enemies is spotted, we are right on our objective, and are about to get a semi lengthy break after we fight off the horde. So I know not to immediately freak out.
Comparing my experience to my friends. You can see a pretty noticeable difference. The first major thing was the level of anticipation when the major hordes hit. While they were right in the middle of their climactic objective, and the game would throw a major horde of enemies at them, they would tend to panic. Their accuracy and perception would go down significantly and end up lending themselves in the middle of a pile of enemies. This was comedic to watch, but also told me that the games mechanic for spawning enemies at crucial points was working as it should. Although this adds an additional level of difficulty, it isn’t impossible. Playing on the recommended level of difficulty, although the missions stressed them out, and gave them a huge rush, they were still able to finish them. The second was wasting resources. In a lot of FPS, players will instinctively reload when they are at half of their ammunition, or use some kind of equipment to refill ammo. In DRG you get around 75% of your ammunition back when you call in a supply pod. Because of the way the game is balanced, climactic points will occur around the time players would normally get to half ammo. Because of this many players, including my friend, tend to call in drop pods when approaching 50% instead of 25%. This leads to problems as the resource needed to keep calling in supply pods is limited, and runs out quickly when players waste 25% each time. This is a very different reaction from an experienced player.
Looking at my actions vs my friends, you can see clearly where players will make mistakes and react in certain ways. This is a good reason as to why it is important to have a wide variety of people when playtesting. If just my friends' experience was considered, it may appear that the game was too hard. They may not be a veteran, but they are still pretty competent with most games. This isn’t the case for all players and in fact many players struggle on the normal difficulty. However, this game isn’t supposed to be easy, or relaxing. Although I was never at risk of losing, and was able to relax at non climactic points, it wasn’t as if I could slack off and just not pay attention. You still have to try hard and pay great attention to your surroundings, even as a veteran playing on the easier difficulties.